General Information about Palestine

The official name is the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). It is located in the southwestern part of Asia along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It consists of two separate territories: the West Bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza Strip. Area – 6.2 thousand km2: West Bank – 5.8 thousand km2, Gaza Strip – 360 km2. At the beginning of 2000, the PNA controlled de facto 4.4 thousand km2, which is less than 40% of the total area designated by the UN for the Arab Palestinian State. The population is 3.4 million people. (July 2002). The official language is Arabic.

November 15, 1988 The National Council of Palestine proclaimed Jerusalem the capital of the Arab Palestinian State. Currently fully controlled by Israel.

Public holidays – Day of the beginning of the “Palestinian revolution” January 1 (1965), Day of the proclamation of the State of Palestine. November 15 (1988), Day of International Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29. Monetary units: Israeli shekel (equal to 4.7 US dollars, 2002) and Jordanian dinar (equal to 0.7 US dollars since 1996).

Member of the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and several others. It maintains diplomatic relations with 120 countries of the world.

Geography of Palestine

The PNA borders: on the West Bank – with Israel (administrative border – 307 km), with Jordan (97 km), in the Gaza Strip – with Egypt (11 km). It is located in the Mediterranean-type subtropical climate zone with dry, hot summers and mild winters, with extremely scarce rainfall: from 500 mm in the mountainous northern and central regions of the West Bank to 50 mm on the coast of the Dead Sea. Among the few rivers, the largest is the Jordan River, which flows from the Lake of Tiberias (Genisaret) in the north and flows into the Dead Sea in the south of the West Bank. It does not have any significant natural resources, with the exception of potassium salts, sodium and bromine in the Dead Sea.

Population of Palestine

Out of a total population of 3.4 million people. 2.2 million live in the West Bank and 1.2 million in the Gaza Strip (2002). According to Countryaah, the population over the past 30 years has increased by an average of 3.5% per year. Age structure of the population: 0-14 years old – 44.1%, 15-64 years old – 52.4%, 65 years and over – 3.5%. Children and adolescents under 15 years of age make up 46% of the total number of PNA. 42.6% of the population are refugees, mostly from the western regions occupied by Israel.

The demographic structure of the PNA is characterized by a high concentration and density of population around urban centers, largely due to the existence of refugee camps here. So, according to the United Nations Agency for Assistance to Palestine Refugees (UNVRA), in the late 1980s. in the West Bank alone, there were 20 such camps with a population of 385,000, including one camp in Jerusalem municipality. The maximum degree of population density and concentration is characteristic of the Gaza Strip. 2/3 of the entire population of this region lived in refugee camps.

In con. 1980s on the West Bank there were 12 cities and, according to various sources, from 377 to 403 villages; in the Gaza Strip – 3 cities and 4 villages. The largest cities: Jerusalem, in the eastern (Arab) part of which 136 thousand Palestinians lived, Ramallah, Jericho (Ariha), Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Qalqiliya, Salfit, Tubas, Tulkarm, Northern Gaza, Gaza City, Khan – Younis, Deir al-Balah, Rafah.

An important feature of the demographic structure of the population of the PNA is their national and religious homogeneity: the overwhelming majority (83%) of the inhabitants of these territories are Arabs, i.e. Arabic speaking Palestinians. According to their religious affiliation, 75% of the population professes Sunni Islam; the rest: Jews – Judaism, Christians – Orthodoxy and Catholicism.

Economy of Palestine

The main sectors of the PNA economy – agriculture, industry, trade and services – are oriented towards the “common market” with Israel. St. 60% of the agricultural products of these territories (mainly olives, tobacco, citrus fruits, vegetables and some types of raw materials) are sent for processing and consumption to Israel. Export of agricultural products in value terms – 603 million US dollars. The total value of imports is 1.9 billion US dollars (2002). More than 90% of imports are consumer goods from Israel (textiles, electrical goods, vehicles, as well as some food products – flour, sugar, rice).

The general recent trend in the economy is a reduction in the employment of the population in agriculture, its “depeasantization” and its transformation into wage-workers – semi-proletarians. In the 1990s, according to some estimates, up to 50% of the active population of the West Bank and Gaza were wage workers, 66% of them were employed in the service sector, 21% in industry and 13% in agriculture. In the structure of GDP, the share of agriculture in 2002 was 9%, industry – 28%, services – 63%.

The industry is dominated by small-scale production: small enterprises, workshops with the number of workers from 50 to 10 people. and less (mainly for the production of olive oil, furniture, textiles, leather goods, soap, plastic materials). Some industrial enterprises in the West Bank specialize in the production of building materials: cement, non-metallic minerals, building stone, marble. 90% of PNA industrial production goes to local markets and only approx. 10% is exported to Israel, Jordan, Egypt.

The specifics of the PNA economy is the mass migration of Arab workers to work in Israel, where they are used mainly for hard work in construction, agriculture, laying roads, and urban services. In the 1970-80s. the number of such workers reached 100-120 thousand annually. In 2000-03, in connection with the introduction by the Israeli government of the practice of closing the borders with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, this figure dropped to 30-40 thousand people.

PHA is one of those countries whose economic viability is heavily dependent on foreign financial assistance. In 1994-98, this assistance was provided (in millions of US dollars): the Arab world – 43, Europe (EU countries) – 277, the USA – 65, Japan – 62, IBRD – 24.

Budget 2002 (million US dollars): revenues – 930, expenses – 1200, external debt – 108.

GDP per capita per year – 800 US dollars. In the most difficult situation are the Palestinians – residents of refugee camps. The official amount of UNWRA expenses for 1 person. Equals $37 per year. From malnutrition, diseases, especially gastric, lack of doctors, infant mortality reaches 32%. There is one doctor for every 10,000 refugees. The unemployment rate is over 30%, and in Gaza it is 60%.

People of Palestine